Jan Arnow

By way of introduction, I offer the following several interrelated quotes:

 

"Though I am different from you, we were born involved in one another."

T'ao Chien

 

"We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand

invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as

causes and return to us as results..."

Herman Melville

 

"When we try to pick out something by itself, we find it hitched to

everything else in the Universe."

John Muir

 

"We are one, after all, you and I; together we suffer, together exist, and

forever will recreate each other."

Teilhard de Chardin

 

These quotes form the mirror and the means for my work in violence

prevention, and I think about them every day.

 

I was born in 1947 and grew up on the south side in Chicago, Illinois, the

second child and only daughter of a Jewish couple. While all of the

educational attention went to my brother (as was standard in Jewish

families at that time), I was never expected to amount to much other than

to become the wife of someone or other and raise children in the family's

image. So it should come as no surprise that my parents had no idea that

while I was telling them that I was off ice skating on the University of

Chicago's midway when I was in high school, I was really attending CORE

(Congress of Racial Equality), SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and

SNCC (Student Non-

Violent Coordinating Committee) meetings. Raised in the shadow of Saul

Alinsky, the famous grassroots neighborhood organizer, and as a child of

the early sixties, my life became imbued with a fascination for critical

thinking rather than kreplach-making, and I began very early on to seek out

the holes in the life that surrounded me, what George Hosking referred to

as "what is missing," and try to fill them.

 

Add to this mix two other important factors:

 

1. My mother, who had been raised as the middle child of 5 in the *only*

Jewish family in a small Indiana community (orthodox Jews to boot!) became,

as an adult, fairly repressed. When my father (a native Chicagoan) asked

her to marry him, she thought she was marrying into Jewish aristocracy, and

asked his cousin how many ball gowns she should bring. I don't know what

his cousin told her, but she wasn't marrying into any kind of easy life at

all. She was marrying into a Jewish ghetto on Chicago's west side, into a

family of all women that would subvert, submerge and suffocate her, a

family where all the men had long since left their women, either through

actual desertion, through death, or through escape into Talmudic

scholarship. She was furious with my father. When I was born, and was as

exact a duplication of him as I could be, she found an easy scapegoat in me

and beat me mercilessly until I left home. The phrase "child abuse" was

not yet in common use at that time.

 

2. My parents dabbled in antiques, and would make frequent forays to

country antique stores with me in tow. I would sit myself down in the

section of the stores where the old photos were kept and would pour over

them. During one visit to Charlie's Barn somewhere in Indiana when I was

about 8 years old, Charlie, the shop owner, asked me why I was always

looking at photos. I replied with the 8 year old equivalent of this:

"Because photographs are true and real and that's how I learn about the

past." He then said to me, "I'm going to give you something that you won't

understand now, but hold onto them; you will understand sometime in the

future." And he handed me two photographs of a lynching in Indiana from

the sometime in the 1940's. What appalled me even more than seeing the two

black men hanging from their necks in those trees until they were dead was

the look of glee on the faces of the spectators. I never forgot them.

 

In retrospect, I grew into a person with an infinite capacity to love, an

intense drive to make and keep the peace, a delight in my culinary Jewish

heritage and a wonderful sense of humor.

 

Jump ahead to the late '70's and early '80's.

 

After what seems like a dozen lifetimes; after a degree and career in fine

art photography and textile design; after a career in arts administration;

after careers as a consultant and writer (six books) and an educator and

on and on...I was putting together the foundation, piece by piece, without

consciously knowing it, for my life's work in trying to get people to stop

killing each other. I looked for "what was missing" in my constellation of

skills, filled the holes, and went on to the next void until I felt the

whole.

 

In the early '80's I established The Institute for Intercultural

Understanding, a not-for-profit organization involved nationally and

internationally in projects dedicated to the mission of creating

understanding among diverse populations, whether they are worlds or just

awareness apart from one another.

 

Our major project, called "Voiceless Victims," has been an ongoing

collection (in anticipation of a worldwide exhibition) and study of the art

and poetry of children who have been affected in war and conflict

situations. This study has taken me to the Middle East several times, the

Soviet Union (pre-peristroika), Belfast, and other communities, both here

and abroad, where kids have been and are at risk. This project has

received funding from two unique entertainment products -- a benefit

recording I put together from Columbia/Sony Records created just for this

project called " 'Til Their Eyes Shine -- The Lullaby Album" (released

July, 1992), and the companion film, "Child of Mine -- The Lullaby Video",

first broadcast on the Disney Channel in December 1992 and winner of the

CableAce Award for Best musical special on cable television during 1993.

This recording and film feature prominent vocalists including Carole King,

Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rosanne Cash, Dionne Warwick, Brenda Russell, Gloria

Estefan and others performing lullabies, many of which were composed for

this album. More information about the "Voiceless Victims" project is

available -- just email me or drop me a line.

 

Early in the '90's, I accepted a three year stint as the Manager of

Multicultural Education at the Kentucky Department of Education because I

see an indelible connection between multicultural education and violence

abatement. As part of my responsibilities at the Department, I defined

multicultural education for the Commonwealth during our landmark school

reform; created policy guidelines for implementation of multicultural

curriculum; designed and implemented state-wide multicultural education

workshop/training matrixes and conferences; and worked closely with both

Department and district personnel to bring them up to speed on

multicultural issues.

 

When I left the Dept. of Ed., I wrote the book, _Teaching Peace_, an effort

to address the one question I receive with consistency from the people for

whom I lecture and give workshops: What can I do? I will be uploading the

book by chapters into the Family Services Forum library and will let

everyone know the section(s) in which you can find it.

 

Since the book came out, I have been speaking and conducting workshops

around the country; continuing to work in migrant education as a crisis

intervener/troubleshooter/educator in migrant communities for the Feds

(Dept. of Education) as a poorly paid consultant; and working on several

projects simultaneously (information for which can either be uploaded or

can be sent via snail mail):

 

* No More Violence -- A National Institute on Youth in

Violence and Aggression

( a 3.5 day learning institute that will take place in six

cities in 1997)

* Teaching Peace Bus

(A traveling program that will take people on a tour of

violence in their own communities)

* Parents and Ambassadors of Louisville

(A neighborhood program to keep kids from being

harassed by the police and to keep them out of

trouble)

* Several books, among which are:

 

No More Violence -- Programs that Work

(A collection of information about violence-

abatement programs that are already in

existence)

 

Doing Drugs -- Conversations with Children

 

Eighteen and Alive -- Conversations with Parents

 

Study Guide for Teaching Peace

 

Voiceless Victims -- A Study of Childism

 

My life is full. I am a single mother of three lively teenagers, the

guardian for another (like three wasn't already enough!). I work an

average of 10 hours a day, six (sometimes seven) days a week dealing with

the issues brought up by this group. I have a significant other, a child

and adolescent psychiatrist who has been involved in civil rights issues

for more years than I am alive. I laugh every day, whether I want to or

not. And, of course, I still feel as though I can't do enough fast enough.

 

In my conversation with George this morning, I was searching for a way to

share my resources and the knowledge that I've already acquired with you

all. I described to him the method in which I work, a process developed as

a direct response to the several things I've found throughout my years of

working in this field that people and communities repeatedly, and without

exception, have needed. He suggested that I share this with you as a

beginning. They are:

 

1. Raising their level of awareness about the problem.

 

2. Devising a way to make people aware of how the

problem affects them DIRECTLY.

 

3. Providing them with resources to address the problem in

their own community/school/home, etc.

 

4. Teaching them how to access and use those resources.

 

And I will add a fifth ingredient which is absolutely essential:

 

5. Provide them with ongoing support in their endeavor to

address the problem.

 

This is the method I use. It is labor intensive. There is no immediate

gratification. There is always the danger of burn-out. But it works.

 

I am interested in helping in any way that I can, and also in learning a

lot from you all.

 

Jan Arnow, one of the country's leading authorities on the

psychology and teaching practices of multi-cultural education and

violence abatement, has been conducting research and fieldwork

on these issues for nearly two decades. During her tenure as the

Manager of Multi-Cultural Education for the Kentucky Department

of Education, she authored the state's groundbreaking policy

guidelines for multi-cultural education, and continues to travel

throughout the country to present her program to educators,

parents and community leaders. The founder of the Institute for

Intercultural Understanding in Louisville, Kentucky, Arnow is the

author of five previous books. Teaching Peace, by Jan Arnow

 

Jan Arnow, the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Intercultural Understanding based in Louisville, Kentucky, travels worldwide to educate parents, teachers, doctors and others about ethics and violence, and their current risks to children. One of her presentations last year was to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Her most recent book, Teaching Peace: How to Raise Children to Live in Harmony -- Without Fear, Without Prejudice, Without Violence, has sold over 10,000 copies. She is currently working on: several new books (one of which examines the correlation between violence andvalues); a national institute on violence which will travel to six cities in 1998; numerous workshops and lectures; the class, "Violence: Past, Present & Future;" a new anti-violence initiative that will be piloted here in Louisville (No More Violence Bus); and on additional projects for the worldwide nonviolence movement.

No More Violence Bus - Teaching Peace

 

Return to WHO WE ARE